Here’s the skinny. . .
In the next to last issue of Poet’s and Writer’s magazine Dan Barden wrote an aptly titled “rant” against workshops. You can read it here.
I wrote the following in response. They elected not to publish it. Hence, here goes:
Dan Barden’s “Workshop: A Rant Against Creative Writing Courses,” (March/April 2008) once again calls attention to issues that have troubled writers for years about the workshop. In fact, Barden and others who despair enough to rant might find solace in the recently published crop of books that explore teaching creative writing both theoretically and practically. In Anna Leahy’s Power and Identity in the Creative Writing Classroom: The Authority Project, Graeme Harper’s Teaching Creative Writing, Steve Earnshaw’s The Creative Writing Handbook, and my own anthology with Kelly Ritter, Can It Really Be Taught?: Resisting Lore in Creative Writing Pedagogy, to name just a few, Barden will find essays by fellow writers who have also struggled mightily with the pedagogy of the workshop, who examine it closely and who often suggest concrete ways in which instructors can revise it so that actual learning he questions does take place. Supporting these writers’ effort’s by availing ourselves of the growing body of knowledge that explores creative writing pedagogy is critical and empowers all of us who teach the subject.
It had to get out somehow. Talk to you soon.
Finally finished my essay, “Once More to the Workshop: A Myth Caught in Time,” and emailed it to Dianne Donnelly, who’s editing a collection on the current state of the workshop for Multilingual Matters. I had fun with it, weaving in relevant quotes from E.B. White’s oft-anthologized “Once More the Lake” (read it here) in order to make the point that the “traditional” workshop has been mythologized to the point that it is a frozen icon–much like White’s lake, and his essay. In it, I also got to give my two cents about Dan Barden’s essay (he call’s it a rant, and rightly so) in the most recent issue of Poet’s and Writers, in which he demonstrates a complete lack of awareness of recent research and writing on creative writing pedagogy (recent meaning of the last say, ten years). Honestly folks, how many essays do we have to have re-inventing the wheel (the traditional workshop is problematic? really? what a concept!) before we move on!
In other news, apparently, the fight of save Edith Wharton’s The Mount has garnered quite a bit of attention and now, an official blog at helpsavethemount.blogspotcom. All the important donation info is there, new photos, and, soon, stories from readers about the influence the Mount or Edith Wharton has had on them. I duly contributed. As I mentioned in a previous post, this historic site has had quite an influence on me.
Also baked bread this weekend, in order to make sure my husband and kids have a good stock while I am in Kalamazoo later this week for the Writing Project, and spent a delightful half day with my favorite almost-three-year old sprite, Lillian. We blew bubbles, built with duplo blocks, drew with crayons and cut with scissors–or rather, I assisted with the latter and was formally dubbed a “good helper!”
At some point I’ll post a recipe for the bread; very simple, my husband’s family recipe, but there’s nothing like it.
That’s all for now. Don’t forget about the giveaway.